Now that the 2007 season has officially ended for Tampa Bay, Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen will turn his attention to improving the team in 2008.
One of the improvements the Bucs would like to make is at quarterback, a position general manager Bruce Allen hopes will include Jake Plummer in 2008.
Of course, the Bucs deemed the quarterback position a priority this time last year, too. In March, Tampa Bay traded a 2008 conditional draft pick to Denver in exchange for Plummer last offseason, but Plummer never played for the Bucs, electing to retire instead.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden went as far as flying out to Idaho to meet with Plummer last summer. That meeting did not produce the result the Bucs were hoping for as Plummer remained retired.
Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen has since filed three joint grievances with Denver against Plummer in an effort to either get him to play for the Bucs or retrieve up to $7 million in signing bonus money he received while playing for the Broncos.
Allen said Thursday that he was hopeful Plummer, 33, would play for the 2007 NFC South champion Buccaneers in 2008.
"I'm a very hopeful guy," said Allen. "Jake got to see what we were doing last year. He has a contract and we expect him to honor it."
In the meantime, the Bucs remain high on the quarterback they signed on the same day they traded for Plummer – Jeff Garcia, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Garcia, who turns 38 in February, completed 63.9 percent of his passes and tossed 13 touchdowns and four interceptions en route to helping the Bucs improve from 4-12 to 9-7.
The Bucs also feel like QB Luke McCown has a some upside after watching him complete 67.6 percent of his passes and throw for 1,009 yards and toss five touchdowns and three interceptions in several games, including three starts.
"[Upgrading the quarterback position] was the primary goal last year and Jeff Garcia really lifted this team," said Allen. "Luke McCown's flashes of excellence were very helpful to this team."
Although he's under contract with Tampa Bay for one more season, QB Chris Simms' future is up in the air. Although he claims he said on Monday that he feels he's on the mend, Simms has missed nearly two seasons as a result of a spleen injury he suffered in Sept. of 2006.
The Buccaneers currently have four quarterbacks – Garcia, McCown, Simms and Bruce Gradkowski – under contract in 2008, but Simms' future in Tampa Bay could be in doubt should Plummer decide to return to football this year.
One thing is for certain – the Bucs welcome the competition and depth at quarterback.
"Jeff, as you all saw, is a tremendous competitor, which is what we were looking for in a quarterback when we brought him," said Allen. "He delivered. Luke McCown showed some special skills that shows promise for the future. Chris Simms, we're hoping, is healthy and able to play this year and compete. We hope Jake Plummer honors his contract, and Bruce Gradkowski gives us more competition and depth at the quarterback position.
"I'm sure we'll be discussing this again before March, but as of right now we feel good. If you looked around the league this year I think that was the story. I don't you've seen as many backup quarterbacks forced into playing football this year in a starting role. The amount of teams that have went through four quarterbacks has to be near an NFL record. The play of some quarterbacks in this league really hurt some franchises badly this year."
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